MLGW’s CEO concerned by outdated infrastructure, frequent power outages

MLGW’s CEO concerned by outdated infrastructure, frequent power outages

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - MLGW CEO J.T. Young went before city council members Tuesday morning to discuss a weekend power outage that left 18,000 customers in the dark.

Much of that outage was not caused by weekend storms.

“It does concern me,” Young said.

Young said his assessment of the utility's power grid and aged system reveals much room for improvement.

“I want to make sure that our infrastructure matches the customer expectations,” Young said. “Right now, I'm not convinced that it does.”

Young said Sunday morning, the lights went out for roughly 18,000 customers because of catastrophic equipment failure at a substation.

Standby crews had to be called in, and he said it's likely weather played a part in some of those outages, but not all.

“There was a cascading effect,” Young said.

Multiple rounds of summer storms have wreaked havoc for the utility over the past few months with thousands of outages at a time.

Young said a long-range plan to harden the grid will be presented to MLGW board members soon and pending approval to the Memphis City Council in October.

Some of MLGW's infrastructure is four decades old.

“You can't get improvements without making investments,” Young said.

Young’s plan to beef up the system will come at a cost--a dollar figure that has not yet been made public.

“It is important for citizens to know that we get what we pay for and we know that our equipment is old,” said MLGW Committee Chair Patrice Robinson. “We can have those very vibrant conversations over the next three months.”

You can expect fireworks if MLGW customers are asked to pick up the tab. A recent rate increase request for the utility vexed members of the city council and caused a heated debate.

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